Morph Cut Transitions

NLEs

Jump cuts can be a pain to deal with when cutting interviews and other types of video projects. Sometimes your talent talks too long or you need to hide unnecessary motion. All conventional wisdom says the best way to hide a jump cut is to use a cutaway or b-roll. I wholeheartedly agree and use that wisdom quite often in my own work. However, there are times when those options don’t exist and you are left with jarring jump cuts that can distract or interrupt the piece. Thanks to technological advances in editing software, there are ways to hide a jump using a Morph Cut transition. I’m going to highlight how each of the three top NLEs on the market are able to do this.

Avid Media Composer Fluid Morph

The Fluid Morph effect predates any other morph cut transition that has been brought to the market lately. In this tutorial, GeniusDV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how to use the Fluid Morph effect to hide jump cuts on an interview clip. First, he makes blade edits at certain points, and then adds the Fluid Morph effect. In the Effect Mode panel, he changes a few parameters and sets the duration to three frames long. After a quick render, you see that the Fluid Morph was able to hide the jump cut in the interview. From what I know about diehard users of Media Composer, this effect exists in many of their favorite effects bins.

Adobe Premiere Pro Morph Cut

Introduced back in April 2015, the new Premiere Pro Morph Cut transition works to hide jump cuts between edits. Located in the Dissolve category of Video Transitions section, this transition analyzes in the background and attempts to morph frames together to create a seamless transition from multiple frames. From personal experience, I’ve found this transition works best on interviews with static backgrounds and not a lot of motion from the talent. Otherwise, it can be a hot mess when applied. Overall, I see this transition getting better with time as Adobe engineers improve the code base.

Final Cut Pro X mMorph Cut

This recent release from MotionVFX brings Morph Cut transitions to the world of Final Cut Pro X. For just $59, you can salvage interviews from long pauses, stutters, and mistakes. The transition works fluidly to fill gaps and instantly smooth out shots. I haven’t had a chance to try it out myself, but based on the demos I’ve seen, this seems like a must-have for editors who do a lot of interview work. With all the innovation that FCPX has brought to the table, I was a bit surprised that it took this long to finally get this plugin. I’ve seen tutorials where it was possible to do this but it seemed rather tedious in execution. It’s good to see that FCPX has this ability.

From what you have seen here, the Morph Cut method of hiding a jump cut can work depending on the footage and the circumstances on which you use it. While not perfect by any means, it is a method that can be called upon to smooth out an interview or other type of video project. Try using the Morph Cut method on your next video project and see how it effects your final edit.

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FCPX to AE & Avid to AE

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Very often in the editing process, we get to a point when we need to shift from cutting and assembling our edit, and into the stage of refining it with motion graphics, visual effects, or color grading. Most modern NLEs have the tools that can do such tasks, but depending on the complexity of these finishing techniques, you may need to turn to a program like After Effects. It’s no secret that After Effects is one of the industry standard compositing/motion graphics applications that professionals of all tiers use to complete a project. Getting timelines or footage from Premiere to After Effects is an easy task that can be accomplished in multiple ways. However, if you an editor who uses Final Cut Pro X or Avid Media Composer, getting your timelines into After Effects may be a bit of challenge. However, there are dedicated workflows and applications available for editors of those programs.

FCPX to AE (Automatic Duck XImport)

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This new plugin from Wes Plate brings the functionality of bringing Final Cut Pro X timelines into After Effects. The original Automatic Duck plugin allowed users to send Final Cut Pro 7 & Avid Media Composer timelines to After Effects for polishing and other effects. The process works by creating an XML in Final Cut Pro X. From there, open up After Effects and navigate to Import>Automatic Duck Ximport AE. A dialogue menu will appear and you can navigate to the location of your XML file. Select your XML file, decide whether or not to modify settings, and hit Return. The translation will produce a folder and composition based on what you named your timeline in FCPX. Open the composition and you can see what transferred and what didn’t. This plugin will read third party plugins like Boris FX, Coremelt, and others. The ones that probably won’t carry over are any FCPX Motion template based plugins, like those from MotionVFX, Ripple Training, or Pixel Film Studios.

I personally haven’t had a project to test this plugin, but when I do, I plan on trying this workflow to see if it is another solution I can have in my arsenal.

Avid Media Composer to AE

In this video tutorial, post production guru Kevin P. McAuliffe shows us how to roundtrip Media Composer sequences to After Effects and back. First, he right clicks on his sequence in the project panel and selects Export. In the Export settings, he selects Options and chooses AAF along with AAF Edit Protocol. He also selects Include Video/Data Tracks, enables the Link option, and sends the AAF file to the desktop. Inside of After Effects, he goes to File>Import> Pro Import After Effects. In the dialog menu, he navigates to the AAF file and modifies the settings to accommodate his file. This allows for After Effects to create a composition that looks identical to how his timeline was cut. From there, he breaks down how to export from After Effects using the DNxHD codec. Once he exports it out, importing it back in Media Composer is a smooth process based on the DNxHD codec he used.

I’ve cut on Media Composer in the past, and from what I see here, this is a very similar process to getting FCP timelines to After Effects. The only difference is the name of the file intermediate you use to get your timelines from one place to another. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of how Avid has compositing situations and its continual lack of blend modes boggles my mind. However, this tip is handy for anyone who deals with Media Composer on a regular basis.

From what you can see here, getting your timelines from FCPX and Media Composer to After Effects is not as hard as it looks. Knowing how to use these methods can be beneficial for those situations when you need to hand off your timeline to a visual effects artist or animator. There are probably other methods than the two I highlighted here, so feel free to find those so you have a backup plan.

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AE Tips from UkraMedia

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Every so often, there will be people on Youtube who produce useful content which can help make you better at a particular task or application. If you know the places to look, or you happen to find a clip based on dumb luck, then you can gather great nuggets of information from professionals who take time out of their day to create great content. One particular Youtube author who has helped me become more proficient in using After Effects is Ukramedia. Known as Sergei to his friends, Ukramedia produces tutorials for After Effects and Cinema 4D which showcase ways to use said programs in ways you may not have thought before. His most recent tutorials involve shortcuts that AE users may not know of which can help you use the program more efficiently. I’m going to highlight shortcuts I learned from his three-part series. Hopefully, you can learn something new yourself.

20 Useful Tricks in After Effects You May Not Know About – Part 1

Align Tools

Using the alignment tools can save you time when you have multiple assets across the screen. Using the multiple alignment tools, you can use your mouse to put assets in place as you see fit. You can align your assets to the selection you have in your composition, or based on the dimensions of composition.

Scaling Multiple Keyframes (Alt + Click and drag)

With my keyframes selected, I can use the alt key and change the duration of my animation to be either shorter or longer. This is a much more efficient way to change your animation duration than having to move individual keyframes one by one.

22 Useful Tricks in After Effects You May Not Know About – Part 2

Center Anchor Point/Center in View

If you have ever dealt with text or shape layers, then you will know that anchor points on these layers shift depending on size or position not related to the Transform parameters. If you want to have your anchor point centered on these layers, hit Control+Alt+Home on a PC or Command+Option+Home on a Mac to center it. For positioning any layer in the center of the compositon, all you have to hit is Control+Home on a PC or Command+Home on a Mac to have it relocate to the center of the comp. I’ve found these shortcuts helpful when dealing with layer positioning and continue to use them regularly.

Default Render Setting

To change the default setting you see when you send a comp to the render queue, first send a composition to the queue. Control+click (command+click on a Mac) on the output module, and the next time you send a composition to the render queue it will have the last setting you used as its default setting.

Delete All Effects from Selected Layers

If you want to remove effects from your layers, you may be used to clicking on effects in the effect control panel and pressing the delete button. Well, you can actually remove them with the keyboard shortcut Control+Shift+E (Command+Shift+E) with the layer selected. This will remove all effects from your clip. If you only want one effect removed, then stick to the mouse click and delete method.

25 Useful Tricks in After Effects You May Not Know About – Part 3

Solo Properties/Hide Properties

If you have ever been in the situation where all the parameters are showing on your layer, it can be hard to read. What if you just want to focus on a few properties at once? Command click the properties you want and press SS on your keyboard to solo those properties. These selected properties will be visible until you click off of them. If you want to hide properties, all you have to do is hit Alt+Shift+click on the property to hide them. Knowing these shortcuts will clean up having to see multiple properties of layer when you don’t want to.

Save Frame as Photoshop Layer/Still

To save a frame of your composition as a Photoshop document or still image, park your playhead over the frame, go to Composition>Save Frame As>Photoshop Layers. This will bring the frame into the render queue and it will export as Photoshop document which you can modify to your liking. If you want something other than a Photoshop file, change the output module to a still codec and it will save it as a png or jpeg. In the past, when I needed to export a still image from After Effects, I would set my work area to one frame and export it like a normal comp. I’ve been using this method recently as it does not save a timecode to the title of the image.

Scroll Selected Layer To Top Of Timeline Panel

If you are ever in the situation where you are 50-100 layers deep into a composition, navigating the composition can be hard to deal with. If you want a particular layer to be at the top of the hirearchy, select it and press the X key. This will shift the layer to the top of the order until you navigate away from it.

Select and Deselect All Visible Keyframes

To select all the keyframes across multiple layers without using the mouse to select them, select the layers and hit Control+Alt+A (Command+Option+A on the Mac) to select all the keyframes. To deselect all your keyframes, select your layers and hit Control+Alt+Shift+A (Command+Option+Shift+A on the Mac). These shortcuts are very useful for when you need to select all your keyframes and a mouse select isn’t enough.

Sergei’s tips and tricks have reinvigorated how I look at After Effects and have also allowed me to dive in further into what it can do in a much broader viewpoint. I highly recommend you subscribe to his channel so that you can learn a few tips and tricks yourself.

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Nodes 2 from Yanobox

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Avengers. Ender’s Game. Iron Man 3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes. These are just a few films that have had the opportunity to utilize the plugin known as Nodes. With the release of Nodes 2, Yanobox has upped the ante with what this plugin can do. This motion graphic tool can import 3D models, interact with the After Effects camera, link text and images to individual nodes, and so much more. The best part is it supports the most popular editing and compositing programs on the market including: After Effects, Motion, Final Cut Pro X, and Premiere Pro. If you don’t believe how awesome and intricate this plugin is, take a look at this demo below:

I’ve had a chance to try out Nodes 2 myself and I was extremely impressed with how quickly I was able to pick it up. Here are a few quick examples of what I was able to create on my own, which to my surprise, rendered very quickly on my iMac. On top of that, I like that I can create certain animations with ease compared to plugins like Trapcode Form or Particular.

Overall, Nodes 2 is an incredible plugin that needs to be experienced firsthand to admire its depth. With this plugin, I am able to create breathtaking and stylized motion graphics that would require multiple plugins and tinkering to achieve the look Nodes can create effortlessly. I’ve always been a fan of the Yanobox plugins, and this Nodes sequel more than lives up to its predecessor. I like how the controls are easy to experiment with, as well as the presets. The presets provide a great starting point and can be manipulated at will. The fine folks of Noise Industries have provided very detailed tutorials for your favorite software application, which you can check out here:

If you are looking for a plugin that imports stunning 3D models, build networks of node structures, and allows you to create an limitless amount of text and image connections, then look no further than Yanobox Nodes 2. At the price of $299, it’s a no brainer purchase that will save you hours of work and allow you to explore more creative depths than you can imagine.

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Best Drones for Filmmaking

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In this new era of filmmaking, getting complex shots has become much easier thanks to technological advances made by vendors across the world. It’s more affordable to get a rising shot thanks to jibs and cranes that are accessible to even the most low budget filmmakers. Getting stabilized shots are easier now thanks to amount of rigs available. Aerial shots have now become cheaper due to the influx of drones available on the market. I want to highlight some drones you may want to consider adding to your filmmaking kit so that you can increase your production value.

DJI Phantom 3 Advanced/Professional $1,3000

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This aerial drone is a new release from DJI and can capture great high quality footage from great distances. What makes this drone so popular is the following:

  • 3 Axis Gimbal camera which shoots HD (for the Advanced model) or 4K (for the Professional model)
  • Captures photographs at 12 megapixels
  • Live HD camera view via smartphone or tablet attached to the remote controller through the DJI app
  • Vision positioning through visual and ultrasonic sensors
  • Intelligent Battery with battery level indicator
  • Worry-free AutoPilot

As an owner of the DJI Phantom 3 Pro, I can attest to the incredible media captured with this camera. Within three days of learning to fly this drone, I was capturing great aerial shots that I would have had to pay a helicopter pilot to capture. With a $1,300 price tag, it is a steal for what you get from this drone. I would personally recommend this model for any prosumer or high end shooter who needs to capture aerial shots of client locations.

 

DJI Inspire 1 $3,399

 

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The DJI Inspire 1 is the more advanced and expensive model of the Phantom models offered. This drone is designed with strong carbon fiber arms and gives the user a full 360 unrestricted view when in flight. The Inspire features:

  • 3 axis gimbal 4K camera which shoots up to 30 fps, or 1080p up to 60 fps and takes photos at 12 MP
  • Optional dual remote control function
  • Powerful propulsion system
  • HD wireless video transmission
  • Vision Position system
  • Intelligent Power Management system

If I had the expenses, I would have considered investing in this. I would definitely say that this model is meant for high end, big budget filmmakers that have the funds to afford it.

3DR Solo Quadcopter $999.95

 

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The 3DR Solo is an all-in-one personal drone with a great ease of use and powerful new features. Within these powerful features are the following:

  • Computer assisted cinematography through the Solo app
  • Attach a GoPro to gimbal harness and stream HD video from your GoPro to your iOS or Android mobile device, at ranges of up to half a mile.
  • Easy to use aerial photography controller
  • Powerful smart battery which displays remaining time
  • Up to 20 minutes of flight time with GoPro attached

I haven’t had the opportunity to try this drone, but based on the preview video above and the feature list, it has a lot to offer. With the ability to mount a GoPro, you know what type of quality you are getting. With a price tag of $1,000, you are getting an advanced video production tool that will give see a greater return.

Overall, these three drone models are great if you want to add aerial videography to your business and skill set. I’ve only began my journey into aerial photography, but already I feel that it has added much value to my current projects. I look forward to seeing what I can do next.

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What is HitFilm?

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With all the editing and compositing programs available for filmmakers on Mac and PC, it can be hard to decide which program suits your workflow. The general understanding of post production is that editing should be handled in one program, where visual effects and motion graphics are handled in another. Programs that utilize this workflow are Premiere Pro/After Effects and Final Cut Pro X/Motion. With Avid Media Composer, professionals cut in the program but usually go to programs like After Effects, Fusion, Nuke, or Motion for graphics work. However, there are programs that have the best of both worlds all in one package. Autodesk Smoke has both editing and node based compositing capabilities. Another program is HitFilm Pro. I want to discuss HitFilm Pro, and why you should consider using it if you want an affordable all-in-one post production software.

What is HitFilm Pro?

HitFilm Pro is an all-in-one editing and compositing program. Designed to handle projects on the small scale to big budget, HitFilm can withstand it all. Bundled with over 180 effects, and the ability to switch between editing and effects smoothly, this program can do some amazing things whether it is in 2D or 3D. Need to motion track titles to a moving object? HitFilm can do it. Need to make your talent look like they are flying through the clouds? HitFilm can do that. This piece of software is pretty comprehensive and is only limited by what you want to create.

What is the general workflow when using it?

First time users can take different approaches to post production when they use this software. Gone are the days of switching between apps to do essential parts of the post production pipeline. Now, you have the choice between doing compositing or editing. In the second video above, Axel Wilkinson shows us a general overview of the HitFilm interface and how users can get up to speed crafting their videos in no time. Switching between the editing tab to the composite tab is something we could only dream of in the past. That reality is here with HitFilm Pro.

What effects can I create in it?

Like I said before, what you create in HitFilm Pro is limited to your imagination. Below is a list of effects and compositing capabilities it possesses:

  • Chroma Keying
  • Live 3D Model Rendering
  • 3D Particle Engine
  • Mocha 4.0 for planar tracking
  • Fire, lightning, and weapon based effects
  • 3D camera projection
  • Color correction/grading

Essentially, it possesses the capabilities of the popular NLEs and compositing programs on the market. Many web-based filmmakers have used created effects with this program, which include Corridor Digital, Film Riot and Freddie W. The effects I’ve seen created by users of this program would blow away even the most capable pros.

Why should I buy it?

There are many programs you could be using to complete your post production work. Many of which are trusted to get the job done by seasoned professionals. However, just because one workflow is trusted and most used does not mean it’s the only one that matters. Using HitFilm Pro will give you the ability to have the best of two disciplines in one program. No need to farm your visual effects out to a separate application. You can do it all in the application by tabbing over. With HitFilm Pro, you finally get the program that let’s you be all things post production without much hassle. When you have the options that this robust program offers, it’s a no brainer.

Overall, the team at HitFilm have created a comprehensive and robust application that can tackle even the most daunting of projects while making it affordable to every filmmaker. Download HitFilm Express 3 for free or purchase the pro version for $299.

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New Features in FCPX 10.2

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Since NAB happened last week, we were introduced to all the new products and updates to various products for filmmaking. From more efficient user friendly drones, higher end cameras, and software updates, it was a filmmaker’s paradise. One particular update that caught my interest was the release of Final Cut Pro X 10.2. Some of the features that were introduced were needed, and some of them made motion graphics, visual effects, and color grading much easier. I want to highlight three features that I found interesting and offer an opinion on how they will be beneficial to your workflow.

FCPX: 3D Text

One of the newer and greatly appreciated additions to FCPX 10.2 is the ability to create and manipulate real 3D text. Users can tweak animations, materials, reflectivity, and many other options with this new feature. In the past, if you wanted 3D text in your edit, you would go to plugins like Element 3D, mObject, or a dedicated 3D program. From what I’ve seen and played with myself, this is a very intricate feature, and one that requires quite a bit of computing power to truly witness its potential. It would be wise to have a strong Mac on your hands if you plan on utilizing this feature. This 3D text feature is great, and I believe it may minimize the need to run to third party plugins. Many FCPX plugin makes have already stepped up to the plate, such as Ripple Training, MotionVFX, and Stupid Raisins. They offer their own 3D text assets for users to utilize in their projects. I can only see this feature becoming stronger in later updates.

FCPX: Save Effects Preset

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This feature has been long asked for and it finally has appeared; the ability to save effect presets for later use. In the legacy Final Cut Pro, this feature was present along with the ability to save presets in a project. In FCPX 10.2, you can now have saved effects appear in the effects browser, which is much easier than having to do paste attributes all the time. I haven’t had much time to play with this new feature, but if it functions like people say it does, then it is very welcomed.

FCPX: Improved Masks & Color Correction Effect

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The masking feature in FCPX 10.2 now allows their own category in the Effects browser, as well as the ability to keyframe them much easier. The new Draw Mask filter gives you the ability to draw masks which can be linear, bezier, or B-spline smoothing. Also, the Shape Mask now has the ability to convert control points into editable bezier control points. One of the many strengths of FCPX was how strong its masking capabilities were in comparison to other NLEs, and this new feature definitely ramps up its strength. Much more compositing options will now be doable without leaving the comfort of your NLE.

Another new feature introduced is color correction is now an effect. In the Effect Browser, you can choose the Color Correction effect and place it on your effect. From there, it will open up the Color Board and allow for further tweaking. Since it is now treated as an Effect, you can apply color correction before video filters, or insert multiple color correction filters anywhere in the stack of video filters. After you stack and arrange the processing order of multiple corrections and filters in the Inspector, you can save this look as an Effects Preset for for re-use.

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As you can see, the new features available in Final Cut Pro X 10.2 have shown that Apple is serious about the filmmaking community. In time, I hope they address other grievances editors have with the program so that it can be an easier sell to hold outs. Overall, I think these new additions showcase how much potential lies within this program, and I look forward to what they will include next.

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Third Party Green Screen Keyers

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Green screen, or chroma key compositing, has been around since the 1930s. Developed by filmmakers at RKO Radio Pictures, it was used as a method to create complex visual effects that were before its time. Over the years, the process went from a painstakingly analog method to a digital method that can now be done on computers. Programs such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and the like all have the ability to do basic greenscreen/bluescreen keying if your footage is in the optimal conditions. For complex and intricate situations, post professionals turn to programs like After Effects, Motion, Autodesk Smoke, or Nuke. Despite the programs that have greenscreen keying capabilities, there are many third party companies who have developed plugins to handle even the toughest keying processes. Let’s take a look at a few and see what each have to offer.

Primatte Keyer/KeyCorrect

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Primatte Keyer is Red Giant’s premiere keyer solution for post professionals. Within its array of features are some of the following: auto compute algorithm for pulling a perfect key, key correction tools for refining mattes and backgrounds, and color matcher feature for matching the subject to their background. This plugin is one of the most trusted keying plugin on the market amongst professionals in film (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Harry Potter, and Spider-Man) and television (Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and Disney). This plugin is compatible on Mac and PC with programs ranging from Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Motion. I can personally attest to its strengths and abilities as I’ve used it in my work quite often. I find it great to use when Keylight may not be enough to get the job done. For the price of $499, it is definitely a keyer solution to consider if you do a lot of it. Just take a look at its capabilities below.

If you are fine with keying with Keylight, you can get the tools of Key Correct to assist you. Key Correct lets you create perfect keys from an image shot against a colored background. These tools include a Rig/Wire Remover, Light Wrap, Color Matcher, Alpha Cleaner, and many other tools. I’ve personally used Key Correct’s tools on many projects and found it to perfectly complement Keylight when I may have challenging keys. Having both Key Correct and Primatte Keyer are definitely tools you should consider in your post production pipeline.

Boris Chroma Key Studio

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Within the Boris Continuum Complete set is the Key and Blend unit. This unit automates the creation of precise keys with a minimal amount of adjustment. These filters strip away the complexity of chroma keying by automating matting, edge softening and refinement, and light wrapping and reflections to produce seamless composites each and every time. One plugin that stands out is the Chroma Key Studio. The Chroma Key Studio is an all-in-one keying suite similar to Primatte Keyer. It can do everything from screen enhancement, auto-garbage matte and masking, chroma key, matte cleanup, matte choker, foreground color correction, and light wrap into a single filter. In the tutorial below, Kevin P. McAuliffe demonstrates how versatile this plugin is and why it is a suitable solution for keying within your NLE. I’ve used it myself a few times and it is definitely a time-saver if I’m working in Premiere Pro or Media Composer as opposed to shipping it out to After Effects for chroma keying.

PHYX Keyer

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The final keyer plugin on the list is the one from the Phyxware folks. Phyx Keyer 5 is a set of 10 plugins designed to give you even faster and more accurate keys than ever before. These plugins include the FastKeyer, ScreenCorrector, Lightwrap, and SkinTools. These tools have been used by companies such as AT&T, Autodesk, and Fox Sports. These plugins were also used on the feature film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. In the tutorial above, you get to witness how versatile and fast these set of plugins are, whether you are in an NLE or compositing program. One thing to note about these plugins is that they function on Mac only and are installed through the FxFactory software engine. I’ve personally used the Keyer and other tools in this set, and I have to say that it is top notch. They really have tools to handle even the most difficult keying scenarios.

You’ve seen these industry leading third party keyers and what they can do. Feel free to download a trial and see what the hype is all about. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

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Other FCPX Ecosystem Apps

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It’s been about four years since the debut of Final Cut Pro X. In that time, the application has had 14 updates which took it from what some would say is a beta level software not ready for prime-time, to a professional level editing application which is truly groundbreaking. Also in that time, new applications have entered the FCPX ecosystem to help users have as much speed outside the application as they do inside. I want to highlight three applications and a set of folder templates which I believe FCPX users should get their hands on as soon as possible.

ClipExporter 2.0

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ClipExporter is an application that allows users to send their clips to other post production software like Nuke and After Effects. Utilizing the FCPX xml protocol, users take the exported XML file and bring it into ClipExporter. From there, users can choose between the AE exporter, the Nuke exporter, or create trimmed video clips. Choosing either option gives the user the ability to deal with edited clips as opposed to sending an entire clip for further post processing. If you are trying to take your clips to After Effects, the application will generate a jsx file, which AE will read as a script, and load your clips once you run it. Certain items will carry over like resizing, spatial conform, and other modifications, but titles, generators, and such will not. If you are using the Nuke option, it will create a complete folder structure according to your requirements in Nuke. I personally have not used this application even though I have the first version of it. My workflows don’t usually require intense visual effect work so I haven’t had the chance to put it to the test. The newest version (version two) is streamlined much further and runs about $90.

FCPxporter

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FCPxporter is a new application from the folks of FDPtraining.com. It functions to assist FCPX editors in batch exporting projects. In the tutorial above, you’ll first want to tell the app how many projects you want to export. Next, enable your choice of notifications in your System preferences to have the app tell you when things are complete. Inside of FCPX, choose the timelines you want to export, and choose a sharing destination which you want to make default. Choose your export destination and hit Cancel twice. With FCPxporter open and your project number set, hit the Run button to get things in motion. While the application is running, it will tie up all of your computer’s resources so it is best advised that you let it finish the task before you do anything else. Overall, I think this is a nice application to have if you work on projects where you have to export a lot of timelines, like commercials or similar looking videos. I haven’t had a chance to test it myself, but if it is as straightforward as the tutorial indicates, I will definitely add it to my arsenal.

FCPX Folder Templates

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While this is not an application, these folder templates from FDPtraining.com are great for FCPX users who crave instant organization. They are designed to manage all of your project assets. The folders have preassigned finder tags so they are easy to find, or you can import the finder tags as keyword collections into FCPX. These folders will inspire you to be organized and give you another wow factor for deliverables to your clients. They are especially great because they have a template library that integrates well if you use PostHaste for project creation. In my experience of using this, I’ve found these folder templates to be integral in making me a bit faster when doing projects in FCPX. Take a look at the tutorial below and witness for yourself how awesome these are.

toMotion

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toMotion is a free and handy app for installing and backing up Motion Templates. If you download free templates from FCP.co or other websites, then you usually have to manually install the templates in your Movies folder on your desktop, and this can be a pain if you aren’t tech savvy. With this app, it takes the custom templates and gives you the option to install them into the appropriate folder so it will show up in FCPX. I’ve been using it myself for over a year to install custom Motion templates and it works like a charm. I’ve seen other applications that were designed to do this, but I found this one very straightforward and easy to use out of the gate. What surprises me is how few people know about it as it is free and very handy. I strongly recommend adding it to your arsenal if you want to minimize the time spent installing custom Motion templates.

These are some of the new applications and templates available for enhancing the FCPX ecosystem for die-hard users. Each of these applications serve a particular purpose for facilitating an efficient workflow across the board. Feel free to give them a test run to see if they can work for you.

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Media Composer Tips & Tricks

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Of the non linear editing systems I blog about, I rarely discuss Avid, unless I’m comparing it to other NLEs or highlighting new features in updated versions. I decided, that for this article, I want it to be Avid-centric with tips and tricks because there are a ton of them available. In fact, I can honestly say there are more tips for using Avid Media Composer than there are for other editing software. I’m going to highlight a few that stood out to me while using the program. Professionally, I’ve only used Avid about five times, and, in most situations, it was because it was a freelance job that required it. Currently, I don’t use it as much, but I have a lot of respect for those who do, considering it is used to edit major episodic television shows and Hollywood feature films. So, let’s learn some tips and tricks of using Media Composer.

Create Quick Transitions Bin

In this quick tutorial, Genius DV master trainer Jon Lynn shows us how easy it is to create a bin for commonly used transitions. First, choose a transition of your liking and apply it to your edit point. If you want, you can customize it in the Effect Editor window. Next, navigate to the Bins tab and create a new bin called “Quick Transitions.” Make sure you type this out case sensitive or else this process won’t work. In the Effect Editor window, drag the custom transition into the Quick Transitions bin. With that in place, you can click on the Quick Transitions button, click on the drop down menu, and you’ll see you custom transition there.  I have to say that this is one feature I wish Premiere and FCPX had emulated. I know in Final Cut Pro 7 you could create favorites bin and put effects/transitions there, but to have a button able to call them up whenever you’d like would be a timesaver.

Batch Rendering Sequences on Export

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This is a handy tip for those projects that have multiple sequences that need to be rendered. With the work I do for a living, multiple sequences are an every project occurrence. To batch render sequences on export in Media Composer, select all your sequences in their respective bin. Open the Export Settings window and select Quicktime Reference Movie. Click on the Render All Video Effects and hit OK. Now, all your sequences will be rendered in a small Quicktime file to check if things are correct or need to be fixed. You can create a preset out of this in the Export Settings window to save time in the future.

Mapping Editing Workspaces

In this informative tutorial, editing guru and Lynda.com instructor Ashley Kennedy breaks down how to map the Media Composer workspace to your needs. She shows us how to create a custom editing workspace, as well as a workspace for audio editing. Saving a timeline view is as simple as a click at the bottom of the timeline, clicking on Untitled, and choosing Save As. From there, you are presented with a dialog window where you can name your timeline view. She goes into detail explaining how managing the Settings tab can assist in workspaces you may use at various stages of the edit. In my opinion, this is a great video to reference for the times when you step away from Media Composer and forget how to manage workspaces effectively.

Overall, this is a small collection of tips and tricks you can find out about Media Composer. With their active forums and user groups across the internet, you can easily get more acquainted with Media Composer than most NLEs out there. In my opinion, it pays to know Media Composer if you have plans to edit episodic television or major feature films. It is still the dominant editing platform when it comes to delivering those type of projects, and for good reason.

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Favorite New Features of FCP X 10.1

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With the update of Final Cut Pro X to 10.1 (as of this writing, it is currently 10.1.1), the program brought the goods in terms of media management, 4K capabilities, and much more. In my opinion, this update caused more professionals to accept Final Cut Pro X, and to finally start using it. I’m going to touch on some of my new favorite features that were introduced in 10.1.

New Library media management

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I will be honest in saying that when I first got a look at how FCPX managed projects as well as media, it was a complicated process to understand. Gone were the days of project files and scratch disks. These were replaced with events and projects in this paradigm shifting editing software. Events were a collection of media files, and projects were a combination of how you wanted things edited together. Overall, FCPX worked like a database system more than anything else. This method of media management was meant to make media readily available, reduce crashes from too many video clips, and change how an editor could get media from one project to another. While all the intentions of this new system were good, I personally found the process more complicated to get behind than the way FCP 7, Premiere Pro, and Avid Media Composer dealt with media management. What was also hard to grasp was the concept of using third party utilities, such as Event Manager X, to give me peace of mind when I worked on multiple projects. There were many flaws with the original media management system that were hard for me to wrap my head around. However, that all changed when FCPX 10.1 was released and introduced the Library bundles. Adopted from iPhoto, as well as the latest version of iMovie, a library is a container that holds media, events, and projects. If you want to break it down into NLE terms, it is a hybrid between a project file and scratch disk. Best part is, you can specify where to save when you first create one. With the new library model, the concept of projects changed as well. Now, they are treated more like sequences in FCP 7, which will definitely help people who may be on the fence to get behind this software. The folks from Ripple Training break down how libraries work in this clip below:

Through & Rolling Audio Edits

One of the cool new features of the 10.1 update is the ability to make through edits, as well as rolling edits on audio. Prior to this update, if you made a blade edit on a clip, it would split the clip into separate segments. Now, if you make a blade edit on a clip, you will see a dotted line indicating a through edit has been made. If you want the through edit to be joined to its original clip, you select the clip and choose Join Clips in the Trim dropdown menu. Larry Jordan explains these concepts of trimming in the video below:

Another nice trimming addition is the ability to make J and L cuts on audio. In previous versions of FCPX, you were able to make a rolling edit on audio. Now, if you expand the video and audio and use the trim tool, you can roll the audio of one clip into another, thus creating either a J or L cut. The folks at Ripple Training provide great insight into addition in the video below:

Active Clip Indicator

This is a cool new feature which I was glad to see added. The Active Clip Indicator is a white ball that is attached to the playhead. It reveals the effect parameters of the clip the playhead is over without having to select it. Ripple Training provides great insight into this feature as well:

Overall Performance

Under the 10.9 OSX Mavericks, FCPX 10.1 overall performance is extremely smooth; especially for people using either new iMacs, Macbook Pros, or even the new Mac Pros. At first, I wasn’t happy about having to update my operating system to accommodate one piece of software, but since I have, the speed is like nothing I’ve experienced with past Mac operating systems. While I may have my own thoughts on how Mavericks operates, I believe it was a smart move by Apple to make this version of FCPX available only on Mavericks. It gives users not only a next generation editing software, but a free update of their current operating system. With my specs on a 27-inch iMac, I have experienced nothing but smooth and efficient playback. Overall, I personally believe Final Cut Pro X has reached the place where professionals should give it another look. Despite its problematic release almost three years ago, the program has matured into a serious NLE platform that is more than capable of getting things done.

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Using PNG Images in Visual Effects and Motion Graphics

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Learning to search and utilize PNG image files can speed up any visual effects artist and motion graphics editor’s workflow. Whether it’s a quick pre visualization mock-up for a client, or the final render, PNG image files are a great tool to add to any visual editor’s skill set. First, let’s go through a quick run down on what exactly a PNG image file is:

PNG is an acronym for Portable Network Graphics. It is a type of image compression format just like JPEGs and GIFs. One of the great things about using PNG images is that they support lossless data compression. Even though it results in a larger file size, it also allows a perfect reconstruction from the original data file. JPEGs, on the other hand, are considered lossy data compression, which results in a much smaller file size, but the data reconstruction is only a approximation and not nearly as accurate. PNGs were developed to replace and improve upon GIFs, and are currently the most widely used lossless compression format on the internet today.

Now that you have the basics, let’s talk about where to find them and how to make them. The key behind PNG images is that you can save the image with or without an alpha channel. This means that if you search for, lets say, SCISSORS PNG on your favorite search engine, you would be able to get an image of scissors WITHOUT any background to worry about needing to key out later. WITH an alpha channel means there is a background, WITHOUT an alpha channel means no background.

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This can be extraordinarily useful for motion graphics editors who need to animate various objects, and who are working on a tight deadline. Even so, visual effects editors who specialize in matte painting and digital retouching can easily utilize PNG images to add quick layers of depth and realism to their work. For example, Maxx Burman, a VFX artist who worked on AMCs The Walking Dead, used multiple layers of images to build up over the zombie actor’s face to add gruesome textures of torn flesh, exposed bones, and rotting organs.

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The same goes for matte painting when the artist can use images of people, cars, and even buildings to blend it into a landscape scene to create a photorealistic image.

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If you do not find the PNG image you are looking for, you can always create one yourself in Photoshop CC. I’ll show you you how you can do it in two simple steps:

  • Isolate your subject
  • Save as a PNG

 ISOLATE YOUR SUBJECT

Once you import your image into Photoshop, use the QUICK SELECTION tool to highlight everything around your subject, and then hit DELETE on your keyboard.

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SAVE AS PNG

Once your image is isolated, you now can go to FILE >> SAVE AS, and choose PNG as your FORMAT.

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This will present you with a dialogue box about Compression and Interlace. Set Interlace to NONE to make sure there is no alpha channel added to your image. And that’s it. You’re all set!

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Adding Images to 3D Objects in Cinema 4D

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When creating 3D objects, there will come a point where you will need to add a logo or design to one of your objects. For example, you may need to add a label to a bottle. Today, I am going to show you how it can be done in three simple steps:

  • Setting up the Material
  • Changing Projection Method
  • Adjust Orientation

Before we begin, we need to set up the scene. For me, I quickly created a wine bottle using the methods I taught in a previous lesson on using the lathe NURBS. Cinema 4D already comes pre-loaded with a series of textures, including glass for the bottle, liquid for the wine, plastic for the bottle cap, and ground materials for the floor. For the lighting, I used a simple three-point lighting set up (also taught in a previous lesson) to give shadow and highlights to my bottle object. The only thing missing is a label on my bottle.

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SETTING UP THE MATERIAL

There are a few methods you can use in adding the material needed to your 3D object. For instance, a client might provide you with the necessary materials. Another method would be simply be obtaining from the internet, say from a quick Google image search. For this lesson, I created my own label personalized for AudioMicro.com using Photoshop CC. If you do create your own label in Photoshop, be sure to save the image as a PNG without interlacing. This is to make sure only the label is saved with no background color.

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In Cinema 4D, you will first want to create a new material by going to the MATERIALS WINDOW >> FILE >> NEW MATERIAL. From there, you will want to go to that new material’s ATTRIBUTE WINDOW >> BASIC TAB. In the Basic tab, we want to make sure ALPHA is checked in order for our image to displace correctly without interlacing on our bottle object.

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From there, navigate over to the COLOR TAB and choose the 3 DOTS next to the TEXTURE option which will allow you to navigate and select your image file.

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Now, navigate over to the ALPHA TAB and again choose the THREE DOTS next to the TEXTURE OPTION. Select the same exact image file.

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Now your material is ready to be added to your bottle object. CLICK AND DRAG the material from the MATERIALS WINDOW to your OBJECTS WINDOW and drop the material onto your bottle object.

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CHANGE THE PROJECTION METHOD

After applying the material to your bottle object, you will notice that the label is not exactly appearing the way you had hoped. The reason for this is because, by default, Cinema 4D doesn’t understand how the label needs to be placed on your object. The projection method needs to be adjusted in order to achieve the desired effect. To do this, highlight the MATERIAL TAG next to your BOTTLE OBJECT in the OBJECT WINDOW. Then, navigate over to the TAG TAB in the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW.

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Because our wine bottle is a cylinder, we want to change the PROJECTION from UVW MAPPING to CYLINDRICAL.

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By doing so, you now see the label is fitted more properly on the bottle. However, now it seems to be repeated multiple times. To fix this, go to the TAG TAB in the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW and uncheck the TILE option. This is the option that is causing the image file to repeat, or tile, over your object multiple times.

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ADJUST ORIENTATION

We are nearly finished. All that is left is to orientate the label to the exact location on the bottle where we desire. To do this, we need to select our bottle object from the OBJECTS WINDOW and then select the TEXTURE TOOL from the left hand TOOL BAR.

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The label on our bottle object will now have the AXIS ARROWS, allowing us to CLICK AND DRAG the MATERIAL to our desired location.

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The label still may appear a bit stretched or distorted, but no worries. To wrap it up, all you need to do is adjust the LENGTH U and LENGTH V options under the TAG TAB in the ATTRIBUTES WINDOW for your image material.

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How to Use Lathe NURBS in Cinema 4D

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Getting back to the basics. For those not in the know, a lathe is “a machine for shaping wood, metal, or other material by means of a rotating drive that turns the piece being worked on.” For example, a wooden baseball bat is formed on a lathe. A wooden block is spun and the tool cuts away at the block, rounding it out, and over time, forming a perfect baseball bat. In Cinema 4D, using a lathe NURBS will create a perfectly rounded object from a simple outline. In this lesson, I will show you how to create a goblet using the lathe NURBS in three simple steps:

  • Getting the Right Viewing Angle
  • Drawing with a B-spline
  • Adding the Lathe NURBS

GETTING THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE

I have taught using Cinema 4D in the past, but this time we will be using a few different viewing angles in order to reach our goal. By default, Cinema 4D’s viewing angle is set to PERSPECTIVE, and you can see this clearly written in the upper left corner of the CANVAS WINDOW.

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What we need is the RIGHT VIEWING ANGLE in order for us to be able to draw a 2D simple form that we can later round out using the lathe NURBS. On a PC, you simply need to hit the F3 key in order to get this perspective. For Macs, there is an extra step because the F keys are set up to manage alternate functions on the computer. If you are using the Mac, go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES >> KEYBOARD >> check the box for USE ALL F1 F2 ETC. KEYS AS STANDARD FUNCTION KEYS.

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Once completed, you will be able to use your F keys to change the viewing angle in Cinema 4D as follows:

F1 = Perspective

F2 = Top

F3 = Right

F4 = Front

F5 = 4 way split screen viewer

DRAWING WITH A B-SPLINE

Now we need to create our simple form. First hit F3 to go into the RIGHT VIEWING ANGLE, and select the B-SPLINE tool from the SPLINE DROP DOWN MENU.

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The simple form we need to create needs to be the profile of our goblet form in the positive XY quadrant. The reason for this is because when we apply the lathe NURBS to this 2D simple form, it will take this design and round it in 3D space.

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The B-SPLINE tool is used by clicking three times to create a curve. Click once to create the origin point, click a second for the middle of the curve (a.k.a. the arc), and the third click will be the ending point of the curve.

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As you proceed, the ending point of the first curve becomes your new origin point. Continue through using the B-Spline tool to create the thin walled profile goblet’s cup, stem, and foot. When you finish at the bottom, simply reconnect to your first origin point to finish your simple 2D form.

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ADDING THE LATHE NURBS

We can now hit F1 and go back into our PERSPECTIVE VIEW. To add a lathe NURBS, go to the HyperNURBS drop down menu and select LATHE NURBS.

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In your OBJECT WINDOW, you will need to CLICK AND DRAG your B-SPLINE OBJECT on top of your LATHE NURBS. When you do, you will see your simple object has now been lathed and is now a rounded 3D object.

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After review, I found that I still wanted to go back into my simple form and change some of the points to give the cup a higher wall. To edit my simple form, I first need to CLICK AND DRAG my B-SPLINE OBJECT out of my LATHE NURBS with the OBJECT WINDOW, reverting my 3D object back into 2D.

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Back in the RIGHT VIEW (hit F3) you can select the anchor point you wish to manipulate, and DRAG it to the proper destination.

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After finishing your simple form, be sure to add the B-SPLINE back into your LATHE NURBS. You can now view a QUICK RENDER by hitting CMD+R.

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To finish, you can add some great GLASS MATERIALS in the preset materials to your LATHE NURBS to finish your 3D goblet.

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Standard and Multi-Pass Rendering in Cinema 4D

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Once you have created the 3D model, lit it just right, created the background, and animated a camera in the scene, it is now time to render out our creation. For some, rendering is the end of their journey and the rendered file will become the final video of their project. Others render from Cinema 4D, which is just another step in the project. Commonly, After Effects CC is a compositing program that works well with C4D files for further developing a creation. Regardless of which avenue you may be taking, rendering is an inevitable necessity of learning the software, and I am here to shed some light on the process.

I will show how to render out your C4D projects in two different methods:

  • Standard Render – method used if the project is finished and this is the last step.
  • Multi-Pass Render – method used if you intend to import your work into another program for further revision.

STANDARD RENDER

The standard render is the method to be used when your project is finished and you are looking to create a final Quicktime video of your image sequence. To create the standard render, you will first need to select the WHITE CLAPBOARD furthest to the right on the toolbar.

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You will then be presented with a window that looks like this.

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Keep the first option, GENERAL, at its default option, FULL RENDER.

In OUTPUT, choose the preset that best fits your needs. For me, I create a lot of content for film and video and render at HDV 1080 29.97. Depending on your needs, these numbers may change. Towards the bottom, you will want to input the frame range your render will be taking place (remember that the sequence starts with 0, not 1).

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In SAVE, you can now designate where you want the file to save by selecting the ‘…’ option to the far right of ‘File.’ Using the FORMAT drop down menu, you can select the file type of your choice. For example, if you are looking to create a video, you would want to select QUICKTIME VIDEO. On the other hand, you may want to create an image sequence, in which case, you would choose JPG or TIFF, depending on your preference.

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At this point, you can close the render settings window and then select the MIDDLE WHITE CLAPBOARD on the ORANGE BOX. This will initiate the render sequence. The program will then go frame-by-frame, mapping out the sequence until it creates the final output.

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MUTLI-PASS RENDER

A Multi-Pass Render is a multi-layer file that stores all of the data so it can be imported into another program and manipulated further. For example, say I wanted to place my text and shadow in the middle of the road somewhere and eliminate the background. If all the data is from a multi-pass render, I would be able to control those individual characteristics of the file, eliminate the background, and composite my text appropriately. If I felt that the shadow was not dark enough, but everything else looked fine, I can just go into the multi-pass render file and adjust the shadow’s contrast… instead of going back into the master file and rendering out a whole new sequence.

A Multi-Pass Render utilizes all the same key points mentioned above in the STANDARD RENDER with a few added adjustments thrown into the mix. After setting your OUTPUT and SAVE settings, go towards the bottom of the SAVE menu and open COMPOSITING PROJECT FILE.

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Turn on SAVE, RELATIVE, and INCLUDE 3D DATA. Select the compositing program of your choice (I chose After Effects).

Go to MULTI-PASS and check the box to the left in order to make the multi-pass options available.

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Now, select the MULTI-PASS button next to EFFECT at the bottom of the sidebar. It will open a drop down menu with numerous selections. Select the first one on the list, ADD IMAGE LAYERS.

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By doing so, all the layer options will appear in the side bar. In most cases you will not be using the vast majority of them. It’s important to know what your image is composed of, which will help decide what options are necessary. For example, I know I used SHADOW in my project, so I want to keep SHADOW checked. The same applies for AMBIENT, DIFFUSE, and SPECULAR. After I go through and select/deselect the options that are necessary/unnecessary, I am now able to close the render settings window and render out my final sequence.

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